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Keep Your Pet Cool (not just dogs)

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It's hot and sticky with no cool breeze.... give your pet some relief and help them stay cool.

Does my pet feel the heat too? We all want a dip in the pool or to sit in front of the air-con during the summer months, and our pets are trying to cool down too! So what can we do to help our companions?

Shade & Fresh Water

Ensuring that all of your pets have access to shade throughout the day and fresh water is vital and should be your first priority for their welfare.

Wildlife Tip: Let’s not forget that our native animals will be seeking shade and water too. Leaving fresh water containers out each day for birds, lizards, kangaroos, possums etc is easy to do! Just fill up, and place sources of water at varying heights in your backyard.

Keeping Dogs Cool

If your dog is outside, NEVER leave them tethered. Sadly our Inspectorate have attended properties where dogs have succumb to heatstroke because they couldn’t find access to shade or water when left tied up. The sun moves throughout the day, so you need to ensure you have plenty of shade available to your pets at any time. Simply having a dog kennel is NOT enough – this is just like having an oven, no pet wants to sit inside that!

Dog drinking water from a running tap

If there is a heatwave forecast, try to keep your pet indoors in a well-ventilated area.

Doggy Tip: Always have more than one water source available for your dog in case they knock over a bowl. Paddling pools left in a shady spot are also great for dogs that like to cool off in the water.

Doggy lying down in a playground shell filled with water

Cooling mats are a great idea for pets too! You can purchase cooling mats your pet from RSPCA World for Pets. Leave them in a shady spot and when your pet sits on them, the mat absorbs their body heat.

A simple trick is to also wet towels and leave them around for your pet to sit on when they want to cool off.

Frozen treats are easy to make and leave out for your pet on hot days. Check out some of our easy cool pet treat recipes here!

During hot weather it’s important to never exercise your pet during the heat of the day! If your dog is used to a daily walk or playtime, do this before the heat sets in (usually before 10am and after 3pm) but also take into account severe heat weather warnings!

RSPCA dog walking on grass

Never walk your dog on hot surfaces, stick to grassy areas. If you took off your shoes and walked on the bitumen, if it’s too hot for you to handle, chances are your dog will easily burn their footpads… OUCH! This goes for beach trips too, we all know that feeling of trying to run through the hot sand to get to the water, it’s not pleasant for your pet either!

If you’re planning on taking a drive with your dog, never leave your pet unattended in your car or on the back of a ute! Why? It only takes six minutes for a pet to die from heatstroke when left in these situations! If travelling with a dog on your ute tray, the ideal setup is in a secure dog crate that has shade, water and matting to prevent burnt paws. What do you do if you see a pet left in a hot car? Follow these steps.

Dog in car with window slightly down

Some dog breeds are more susceptible to suffer heatstroke due to their physiological attributes. Dogs naturally reduce their body temperature by panting (evaporative cooling from the lungs and mouth). However, brachycephalic (flat face) breeds have shortened airways which reduces the effectiveness of panting. The weather does not even have to be particularly hot for these breeds to develop symptoms of heat stress. So take special care if you own breeds such as pugs, boxers, bulldogs, terriers and cavalier king charles spaniels.

Slip, Slop, Slap! Pets with non-pigmented skin (smooth/thin hair and white-coloured ears or noses) can be more susceptible to skin cancers, so be mindful of this when the sun is out. To ensure that your dog doesn’t get sunburnt, keep your pet out of the sun in the hottest hours of the day and consider using pet sunscreen. You can purchase pet-friendly sunscreen wipes, cream and sprays from RSPCA World for Pets. Note: Human grade sunscreen isn’t safe for use on pets.

Keeping cats cool

Cats will generally find a cool spot in the home to chill out. Ensure you have plenty of water sources left out for your cat. You can also provide extra cooling spots for them like: wetting small towels for them to use if they choose, leaving out cooling mats, and even leaving a fan on for your cat.

Cat drinking water

You will find cats aren’t active during the heat and prefer to nap. Don’t initiate play during the heat of the day, keep playtime to early morning and late afternoon.

If you notice your cat panting or salivating they may be suffering heat stress. Not all cats are fond of water, so use damp towels to cool them down instead of trying to wet them in a bath. If you think your pet is suffering heat stroke, contact your vet immediately.

Don’t forget that cats with light pigmented skin are also prone to skin cancers! Similar to dogs, you can use pet sunscreen on their ears and face where non-pigmented skin is exposed.

Not every cat is Nathan the Beach Cat (below), but some cats do love to swim too!

Nathan the Beach Cat

Keeping livestock cool

Besides shade and water as essentials to provide for all livestock, here are some other tips you can put into action to keep your pets cool.

For chooks, ensure you have large containers of fresh water in the shade. You can also wet dirt areas in their enclosures. Hens will choose to sit and scratch around in the cool, damp areas. Ensure your chook pen is well ventilated if they’re indoors.

Chicken dust bathing in the dirt

For larger livestock species, such as cattle, sheep and goats, shade and water is vital too and just one tree in a paddock does not constitute enough shade for your animals. Also, never transport or move your livestock around during the heat of the day.

Avoid riding or training horses in high temperatures. They also need plenty of shade and water.

Keeping small animals cool

For birds, make sure their cages are moved away from direct sunlight or brought indoors with access to good ventilation. Some birds might even like a spritz of water with a water bottle to help them cool off. You can even offer containers of water as bird baths for those feathery friends inclined to take a dip.

Keeping birds like these budgies safe

Our little guinea pig friends are very susceptible to heat stress. Remember to place their hutch in the shade. As sunlight moves throughout the day, make sure their hutch is in the shade at all times, otherwise your guinea pig won’t be able to escape the heat. Ensure they have a good supply of fresh water and you can even place an ice brick wrapped in a tea towel into their hutch.

Guinea Pig standing with front legs on food/ water bowl

Don’t forget the fish! Is your fish tank away from direct sunlight? This can raise water temperatures. Keep an eye out for distress in your fish; they could be gasping for breath, or may seem paler in colour. If you own tropical fish, you may want to turn off the water heater and monitor the temperature to ensure it remains at the ideal level. Anything over 30 degrees for tropical fish is too hot! For goldfish, the water temperature shouldn’t be higher than 28 degrees.

Goldfish swimming in water

If the water temperature is too high, it’s important to remember to gradually change the water temperature so your fish doesn’t get shocked. Position a fan to blow cool air across the water’s surface. If the fan option doesn’t cool the water temperature, you can freeze some water in a container and place it in the tank or near the filter area and keep testing the temperature.

Want to learn more? Find out how susceptible your pet is to heatstroke by taking our quiz.

Emma Lagoon
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